The Stream, November 29: Charleston, South Carolina, Bans Plastic Bags, Straws to Tackle Water Pollution

The Global Rundown

Citing concerns about water pollution, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, bans plastic bags, straws, and foam containers. Violence over water and pasture flares again in drought-stricken Kenya. An Indian court panel rules that Tamil Nadu had insufficient grounds to permanently close a water-polluting copper smelter. After months of dry weather, torrential rains swamp Sydney, Australia. Low river levels in Europe hamper the continent’s cruise industry.

“We’ve had to find creative solutions. We don’t know a week ahead if the water will hit critical levels, but people book their trips sometimes a year ahead and we want to provide them with the best possible vacation.” –Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of cruise line AmaWaterways, in reference to low river levels in Europe. Water levels in key rivers like the Danube and Rhine are low enough that many cruise lines have been forced to reroute or cancel trips. The New York Times

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

Comprehensive Government Climate Report Warns That Warming Planet Threatens U.S. Water Security — Water infrastructure was not designed for past climate extremes, let alone future changes, report authors say.

HotSpots H2O, November 26: Delays and Disagreements Hinder Africa’s Largest Hydropower Dam — The fate of a controversial dam that Ethiopia is building on a Nile tributary remains unclear, despite recurring negotiations with downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan.

By The Numbers

91 millimeters (3.6 inches) Rain that fell over 90 minutes in parts of Sydney, Australia. The city, which has experienced months of dry weather, was struck with torrential rain and high winds on Wednesday. Officials say the storm is responsible for two deaths in the city. BBC

10 acres Amount of grazing land that each cow in a herd needs for optimal health. In drought-stricken Kenya, pastoralists and their herds are being left with few options for pasture and water, which has spurred conflicts throughout the year. Recently, a herder let his cattle invade a private ranch, and was shot dead by the police when officers tried to confiscate the animals. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O, September 17: Tribal Clashes Leave Several Dead In Kenya as Resources, Aid Dry Up

Science, Studies, And Reports

An Indian court panel said that state officials in Tamil Nadu, India, did not have sufficient grounds to shutter Vedanta Ltd’s copper smelter, which was accused of causing air and water pollution in Thoothukudi, India. In May, 13 people were killed by police during a protest against the smelter, prompting Tamil Nadu to permanently close the plant. Reuters

On The Radar

The city of Charleston, South Carolina, voted to outlaw plastic bags, straws, and foam containers by 2020. Proponents of the bill, which was largely supported by businesses and residents of the city, say trash is choking the city’s waterways and hindering tourism. The New York Times

Kayla Ritter is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied International Relations and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently based in Manton, Michigan. Kayla enjoys running, writing, and traveling. Contact Kayla Ritter

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